Every walk has a memorable moment – a great view, an unusual landmark, a peaceful picnic spot. These hidden gems are all around us, some more secret than others and many discoverable only by exploring on foot.
The theme of this year’s Walk About festival is “hidden gems” - and we want your local knowledge to help us identify the best ones. Feature a hidden gem in your festival walks, and we’ll promote them. Together, we will inspire people to discover what’s in their area with the Ramblers.
What is a hidden gem?
A hidden gem can be anything – a beautiful view; a ruin with an interesting history; a peaceful picnic spot; an interesting rock formation. It doesn’t have to be completely undiscovered – just a particular local spot that you think is fantastic and other people might not know about.
To help get you started, we’ve shared some of the team’s local hidden gems, here in London:
Old Paradise Gardens
Nestled between the busy Albert Embankment and the train lines running between Vauxhall and Waterloo, the green and tranquil Old Paradise Gardens are a secret garden in the heart of the London bustle. A lovely spot to take a pause if you’re walking along the Thames Path, or perhaps escaping the office for a spot of lunch.
Old Paradise Gardens, North West Kennington (Image: Kennington Runoff)
The Printer’s Church
A stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral, tucked away in an unexpected quiet corner, you’ll find St Bride’s - also known as the ‘The Printer’s Church’ due to its long association with the journalists of nearby Fleet Street. Originally one of London’s oldest churches, St Bride’s was redesigned by Christopher Wren following the Great Fire of London. The spectacular spire has caught the attention of several poets, and was even the inspiration for the tiered wedding cake! Wander down to the museum in the crypt to uncover more of St Bride’s busy and fascinating history, plus a few other special surprises.
View of St Bride's Church from Salisbury Court (image credit: Robert Lamb)
The Parkland Walk in North London follows the old railway line between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. This tranquil green corridor brings a little bit of the country to the very heart of the city. London’s longest nature reserve, supporting a host of habitats and wildlife, there’s lots to discover along the four and a half mile route.
The derelict Crouch End station, Parkland Walk (image credit: Robert Lamb)
Ely Place, St Etheldreda’s church & Ye Olde Mitre
Once the site of Ely Palace, the London residence of the Bishops of Ely, Ely Place is a gated road and the last privately-owned street in London. Look out for St Etheldreda’s church, built during the reign of Edward I and one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in England - one of only two surviving buildings in London from this era. Stop for a drink at the Olde Mitre, built in 1546 for the servants of the Bishop of Ely and look out for the famous cherry tree where Queen Elizabeth I once danced with Sir Christopher Hatton.
St Etheldreda, Ely Place, London EC1 - Crypt entrance (image credit: John Salmon)
St Paul’s Cathedral from Nunhead Cemetery
Although the second largest of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ London cemeteries, Nunhead Cemetery is perhaps the least known, and the wildest – a hidden gem in itself! Now a local nature reserve, it is well worth a visit to this South London cemetery to enjoy the elaborate monuments and spectacular views. Climb the hill on the western side of the cemetery to be rewarded with a vista of St Paul’s Cathedral and, on the horizon, Alexandra Palace.
St Paul's Cathedral - View from Nunhead Cemetery (image credit: Julian Osley)
What do you need to do?
Think about the hidden gems in your area, and how you can use festival group walks to highlight them between 26 May and 3 June. Think too about the hidden gems on the routes you’ve already planned, and how you can emphasise these to inspire more people to get out and discover the local area.
Please note – we don’t need you to tell us about your hidden gems just yet. We’ll be in touch soon with more information about what we need and how to publicise your hidden gems to make the most of them.
If you have any questions in the meantime, please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.